Simply put, relationships are at the heart of nearly every success in life. This is particularly true in business. Whether you are a corporate sales professional or an independent business owner who meets with prospects and customers, you are in the relationship business.
There have been thousands of books written about how to establish, nurture and grow business relationships. Workshops have been conducted. Software built. Apps developed. Songs written. But with so many theories and processes out there, it begs the question: Does it really have to be that complicated to build enduring business relationships? Maybe not.
Here is a simple approach – a not-so-secret secret – that could strengthen your sales and keep customers from looking elsewhere:
The Secret is to…
…act like you did in the beginning of the relationship. In other words, treat every business relationship –throughout its life cycle – as you would a new relationship. Think about it from the perspective of a new personal relationship, during the early days when you were courting. You took the time to look your best and prepare. You were on your best behavior. You minded your manners. You made sure the other person felt respected and appreciated. Your date wasn’t just another item on your “to-do” list. This was a person who was important. This person mattered. You were genuinely excited and eager to please. You smiled a lot because you were having fun.
So can you apply this same approach to business? To building better and longer lasting business relationships? Sure you can. Here’s how:
Prepare Like You Care
When first dating someone, you wouldn’t just show up without thinking about where you are going. Same when preparing for a meeting with customers or prospects. Think about what you want to accomplish. Write down your key objectives and questions you want to have answered. Put yourself in a positive frame of mind. Be sure to confirm the meeting via email. If you have an agenda for the meeting (always a good idea), send it ahead of time so the others know how to prepare.
Mind Your Manners
Whether you are meeting with one person or a larger group, be considerate. Show up on time (There’s nothing worse for business – or a business reputation – than being late for a meeting.) If you are the meeting organizer or leader, start on time and keep the agenda on track. It’s your job to keep everyone “on task” and “on topic.” During the meeting, be respectful of the others. Don’t interrupt while they are speaking; always hear them out.
Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
When was the last time you told your clients how much you value and appreciate them? Do you regularly ask your customers for their insights to show them that you care about their opinion and want to improve your product or service based on their input? Also, don’t forget to follow up after you’ve provided your service or product. Make sure you find out if your customer is truly satisfied. And don’t forget to send thank you notes. It’s a nice touch after a date, and it’s a professional courtesy after a client interaction.
When was the last time you had fun doing your job? Are you still excited about your profession? Or do you come into the office on Monday morning and start counting the days until Friday? If you’re not having fun, your clients and prospects can probably tell…and they’d probably rather do business with someone who brings a measure of happiness to their day. So smile. Be easy to work with. Be joyful in what you do and you will be a joy to work with.
The Bottom Line:
Building a lasting business relationship is a lot like building a personal relationship that endures. Be respectful of the people you deal with. Be courteous. Be kind. Be a problem solver. Be a bright spot in their days and you will have many, many days of doing business together.
Need help improving your sales meetings or the interpersonal skills of your sales force? Contact me today.